Summary: A sermon about the power of the Gospel.
Romans 1:1-7, 14-17; 3:22-30
"What is Power?"
What is power?
Power is something that many people want.
It is often obtained through manipulation and deceit.
The desire for power often comes from feelings of inferiority, fear or narcissism.
The results of gaining power for power's sake often comes at the expense of others.
The "desire for power" can lead persons to lie, cheat, steal and kill.
It's been noted that the motivation behind the acts of many rapists is a "lust for power."
Power over other people...
...kind of crazy is it not?
Longing and striving for power, status, fame and recognition is a very common part of everyday life.
So many of us expend countless hours and tons of energy trying to attain power, status, fame and recognition.
It been said that, "The corridors of history are littered with much destruction, pain and suffering because of the unrestrained lust for power and glory."
In our Scripture Lesson for this morning, the Apostle Paul talks about power.
He says that "the gospel...is God's own power for salvation to all who have faith in God..."
Do you remember when the devil tried to tempt Jesus with power?
"the devil brought [Jesus] to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
He said, 'I'll give you all these if you bow down and worship me.'"
And Jesus' response?
"Go away Satan, because it is written, 'You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.'"
How many of us, bow our knee to Satan in an attempt to gain what appears to be power only to find that it leaves us even more empty and weak than when we began to pursue it?
We sell our souls for a lie!!!
We waste our lives running after "fool's gold" when the only "REAL POWER" is found in Christ!!!
Remember when Jesus asked: "What good is it for a [person] to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?"
So what is "our very self?"
Is it not our true image--our true character--the people we were created to be in the first place?
Our true selves are the image and likeness of God.
God's glory, really.
But this glory, this image, this "self" has been blurred and distorted in the world we live in.
We have missed the mark of who we really are.
We are not at the potential or the fullness of who we are created to be.
We have veered away from our right relationship with our Creator.
We are lost and can't find our way home.
And so we have a mess on our hands.
And it's a mess we try and make right with military might.
It's a mess we try and make right with dictatorships, wealth, and worldly authority.
But it doesn't work.
It doesn't get things right.
Paul writes: "the gospel...is God's own power for salvation to all who have faith..."
The Greek word for power that Paul uses here is "dynamis."
It's where we get our word "dynamite."
So, the Gospel is the dynamite of God!!!
It's so powerful that it is able to change the hearts and minds of men and women.
It can turn haters into lovers...
...enemies into friends...
...the arrogant into the humble...
...the jaded into the innocent...
...the lost into the found.
You know, it's interesting that back in Chapter 1:16 Paul writes: "I am not ashamed of the gospel..."
Why in the world would Paul be ashamed of the gospel?
Why would anyone be ashamed of the Gospel?
After-all, it is "God's own power for salvation to all who have faith..."
In the ancient world when Paul lived, the message of a crucified God evoked horror and outrage!!!
Crucifixion was not only an unbelievably gruesome and horrible way to die but it was also done in order to completely humiliate the person being crucified.
The victim of crucifixion was stripped naked, beaten, bloodied, nailed to a wooden cross which was conveniently put up in a "high traffic area" of the city.
The crucified person would then, not only have to endure hours upon hours of excruciating pain, they would also have to endure the scorn and ridicule of the crowds passing by.
People would laugh, spit, and make jokes about the person hanging there.
All we have to do is read the reactions of the onlookers at Jesus' crucifixion to see how it worked.
And so, to suggest that the God of the universe would allow Himself to be abused and humiliated--stripped of His power in this way was beyond scandalous--it was completely laughable!!!
But herein lies THE POWER!!!
God gave His life for ours.
God died to pay the price of our sins, and to buy us back from Satan.